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Weekend preview: Ready to go

October 23, 2008

Lowell River Hawks vs. the Providence College Friars

7:30 p.m. Friday at Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Mass.

All-time head-to-head: Lowell trails 33-44-9

Lowell is 1-2-0, Providence is 1-1-0. PC is 0-1 in Hockey East.

Last three games
Lowell: 1-2 at Michigan State, 3-0 at Michigan State, 1-2 at Colgate
Providence: 4-3 vs. Bowling Green, 0-4 vs. Northeastern

Prior Meetings
Lowell and Providence have yet to meet this season, but split the season series last year 1-1-1 and all three went to overtime. The teams tied in the first meeting 2-2, Providence won the second 4-3, and Lowell won the third 3-2.

Season series
No games played.

Top scorers
Lowell:
David Vallorani — 3 GP, 0-3-3
Patrick Cey — 3, 2-0-2
Kory Falite — 3, 1-1-2
Jeremy Dehner — 3, 0-2-2
Scott Campbell — 3, 1-0-1

Providence College:
Matt Bergland — 2 GP, 1-2-3 (1 GP, 0-0-0 Hockey East)
Pierce Norton — 2, 1-1-2 (1, 0-0-0 HE)
Matt Taormina — 2, 1-1-2 (1, 0-0-0 HE)
John Cavanagh — 2, 1-1-2 (1, 0-0-0 HE)
Nick Mazzolini — 2, 0-1-1 (1, 0-0-0 HE)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Carter Hutton (1-2-0) — 3 GP, 178:39 minutes, 1.34 GAA/.941 sv%

Providence College:
Chris Mannix (1-0-0) — 1 GP, 60:00 minutes, 3.00 GAA/.906 sv%
Justin Gates (0-1-0) — 1, 60:00, 4.00/.833 (same HE)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (3 games) — 5 goals for (1.67/g), 4 against (1.33/g). Power play 2/18 (11.1%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 9/12 (75.0%, 0 SHGF)

Providence College:
Overall (2 games) — 4 goals for (2.0/g), 7 against (3.5/g). Power play 2/13 (15.4%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 11/13 (84.6%, 0 SHGF)
Conference (1 game) — 0 goals for (0.0/g), 4 against (4.0/g). Power play 0/7 (0.0% 0 SHGA), penalty kill 2/3 (66.7%, 0 SHGF)

Outlook:
Finally.

For the first time since Feb. 29, Lowell hockey has a home game. And not just a home game, a home game against a Hockey East opponent, and one with which Lowell has proven very equal over the past few years. Five of the last six meetings have gone to overtime, and Providence is 2-1-2 in those.

However, this isn’t the Friars of the last two years. While Lowell has stayed virtually the same (three players lost from last year, all of them role players), Providence graduated or lost to the pros guys like goalie Tyler Sims, forward Jon Rheault (man was he good) and defensemen Cody Wild and Trevor Ludwig (ditto). And while Lowell seems to have replaced what little they lost at the very least, and has likely improved upon it (see: Vallorani, David), Providence has seemingly not done so.

Granted, it’s hard to replace three drafted players and your No. 1 goalie, but this PC team is apparently very mediocre. Freshman Matt Bergland, who has three points in his first two college games (actually just one game) to lead the team, but the rest of the team has seemingly very little finish. Case in point: Friday’s tilt with Northeastern saw the Friars pour 35 shots on net and bury none of them. In fact, PC has put 66 shots on goal in its first two games and only three of those have gotten past the goalie. That’s either a lot of low percentage shots or an astonishing lack of ability to, if we may paraphrase a baseball term, put it where the goalie ain’t.

Lowell, meanwhile, has struggled to put together consistent offense, but at least they’ve not been shutout yet despite a shot advantage of that enormity. And Lowell giving up four goals in three games (with two of those on the road at Michigan State) is much more encouraging than PC’s seven in two at home.

It’s tough to really have genuine opinions on either team since we’ve seen neither of them this season and the statistical sample sizes, and we apologize for the brevity of these early previews, but we SUSPECT Lowell will have the guns to win this one (let’s pick it up, CPR line). We’re assuming another start for Carter Hutton, as he totally earned the No. 1 job at State, but wouldn’t be surprised to see Nevin Hamilton get the nod either. Gotta think PC gives senior Chris Mannix the start.

Ehh, it’s hard to say. We like Lowell in this one, to be honest, if only because the Providence fans we’ve heard from don’t like the Friars in it. That’s enough for us this early on.

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